So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labour. For we are coworkers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.
1 Cor. 3:7-9
This year at Assembly we worked together to make a piece of art—a doorway structure hung with thoughts, ideas, prayers and commitments from our Canadian Baptists of Ontario and Quebec family. We asked a series of three questions and asked each participant to prayerfully consider their responses. We asked:
- How is God already working in your church and your community?
- What is the biggest challenge you face in your church and how could it present you with an opportunity?
- What is one thing you’re going to do when you get back to your church to encourage them to participate in what God is doing?
We wanted to share the responses with you. Be encouraged: God is at work among us!
How is God already working in your church and your community?
“He’s bring the world to us. Our community has a growing number of immigrants from Latin America and the Middle East.”
“God has brought us young families and a new children’s pastor. He is challenging us to put comfort aside and to reach out into our community with the love of Jesus. Pray for us to figure out how…”
“We are seeing new people coming to our family with six children. A new spirit has filled our church. Praise God”
“Our church demographic is changing! New families (new to church) are joining! New converts from the community! Local ministerial is strong and has more members than it has in years! Unity is a strong theme and prayers are being said for fellow believers in other faith denominations. Unity is a good community witness!”
“rEcess, a program that provides four hours of respite care to kids with special needs and their siblings – giving their parents a break. We are the hands and feet of Jesus!”
“Through collaborative work, we are engaged with another Baptist church in sponsoring a Syrian refugee family of six.”
“People of the church have a desire and a heart for their community. God is preparing the way by showing the possibilities and re-energizing people in their involvement with the community where the church is located.”
“Opening our minds to the possibility of big changes for our congregation in an effort to find ways of connecting with our surrounding community.”
“We have a strong youth and children’ ministry that has led to many more young people coming to and staying in church and being baptized. That gives us hope in the continual growth and life of our church.”
What is the biggest challenge you face in your church and how could it present you with an opportunity?
“Decline in membership. Opportunity to go out into the community and do outreach.”
“Our congregation is mostly senior (80+). We need to show them they are valued and respected. We need to include them by asking them to share their life experiences with us as we reach out to other generations within the surrounding communities.”
“Letting go of tradition. We don’t like change. Moving forward in faith, seeing signs of the future, new beginnings for our younger generation and their future in a modern facility.”
“Our largest obstacle is the ‘we’ve never done it that way’ mentality. This presents the opportunity to remind each other and teach each other to hold lightly to the events in our history, hold tightly to the truths we’re founded upon, hold onto each other and move into the future God has for us.”
“We have a small congregation of older folks. We have the opportunity then to bring new people in through the kindness of our members to others.”
“We are a very busy church—many of our volunteers are ‘stretched thin.’ But this means we have an active faith—we need to focus our activity by discerning our vision and so accomplish more by ‘doing’ less.”
“The biggest challenge we face is transitioning our church family from a traditional church setting to relocating to a modern, unadorned (no stained windows) building at the edge of town. I believe we can impact this unchurched are with love and safe relationships. Offer them a place to meet their communities.”
What is one thing you’re going to do when you get back to your church to encourage them to participate in what God is doing?
“Continue as well as expand our mission work in China.”
“I will share and emphasize how we need each other and how we need to be willing to let go and let God lead us through open doors.”
“I am going to share the vision of God’s love. I am going to challenge them to look for opportunity and open doors. I am going to work towards spiritual health in community so we can encourage one another to walk through the open doors.”
“To prayerfully seek what God is doing. To ask for his help in meeting this need.”
“Reach out one at a time. Reach out to the next generation—Gen Z.”
“Have a new attitude. See youth as helpers, understanding we need to listen and hear for their thoughts on the church. Use them in all areas. Don’t just or control, instead be where they are. Gather together as a group to prepare for Alpha in September 2016.”
“Reframe our challenges as opportunities (God-given ones) and challenge us to say ‘yes’ to the things that truly fit the vision God has given us.”
“Let the love of Christ shine through me each day. Be an inspiration to others. Let us serve with joy.”
“I will be more positive and encouraging to my pastor and church family. I will embrace change and future doors of opportunities! Thank you to my Lord and Saviour.”